New interactive atlas adds two more endangered languages
Koro (Arunachal Pradesh, India) and Jeju (Jeju Island, Republic of Korea) have just been included in UNESCO’s new enhanced online Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. UNESCO is taking this opportunity to encourage language documentation and revitalization efforts throughout the world.
The discovery of Koro was announced by the National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project in October 2010. An unwritten language spoken by about 800 to 1,000 people in the East Kameng District of Arunachal Pradesh (India), Koro had been known to linguists for some time, but was classified until now as a dialect of the Tibeto-Burman Aka language.
On the basis of information recently made available, the editorial team of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger decided to update the Atlas by including Koro. Drs. Gregory Anderson and David Harrison of the Enduring Voices Project have also revealed that the speakers of Koro are culturally submerged within the dominant Aka ethnic group.
As for Jeju, it is a critically endangered language spoken by no more than 10,000 people on Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea. Its intergenerational transmission has been disrupted, as it is spoken fluently today only by people who are more than 70 years old.
The listing of these two languages coincides with the release of the enhanced web platform for the Interactive Atlas. It offers its users improved search and browsing functionalities, a downloadable dataset, statistical summaries and a more streamlined feedback tool. It is noteworthy that the feedback sent by users (mainly researchers and speakers of endangered languages) has been processed by the editorial team and included in the new platform.
As of December 2010, UNESCO’s interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger lists 2473 languages, whose vitality status ranges from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘extinct’.
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